9th November, 2022
Is Atiku still in the Presidential race?
Published By: Kazeem Ugbodaga
By Jesutega Onokpasa
I do not know what foundation former Vice President and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has in mathematics but whatever it amounts to, it is extremely perplexing how he, along with the rabble currently aligned with him, sees any viable path to electoral victory this election cycle.
From the six states of the South-south, all Atiku has left are four Governors, two of whom might not even fully be entirely sold on his ultra-controversial ambition.
Cross River is All Progressives Congress, APC, with a governor determined to humiliate the PDP. Apart from this, the APC’s highly charismatic Women Leader hails from there.
Rivers is completely gone with Governor Nyesom Wike seemingly becoming ever more implacable and set on revenge by the day. Akwa Ibom’s Udom Emmanuel, on his part, might still secretly harbour resentment against Atiku for being passed over for Delta’s Ifeanyi Okowa.
As for Bayelsa’s Duoye Diri, he woefully lost his own election to become Governor to APC’s David Lyon in 2019, and is only Governor today because of a wrong judgement the Supreme Court recently corrected in David Edevbie v Sheriff Oborevwori. Diri is most certainly not in any political condition to deliver Bayelsa for Atiku, more so when Bayelsans continue to deeply resent the former Vice President for turning against President Jonathan in 2015, having hitherto, bitterly fought him in 2011.
As for Edo’s Godwin Obaseki, whose state party ironically remains in the iron grip of Nyesom Wike of Rivers, he seems to be the most confused politician in Nigeria, with his sentiments apparently vacillating from PDP to APC and then to Labour depending on which side of his bed he wakes on any given day!
In the South-west, Atiku has been reduced to the truly pathetic status of a complete nonstarter. The one governor his party has in the geopolitical zone, and therefore the zone’s party leader, Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, is in league with Wike and only recently ended up endorsing Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of APC, just as Wike similarly endorsed Governor Jide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos! Ademola Adeleke, Governor-elect of Osun, has never really been a fan of Atiku and, at any rate, would not want to go against his own people, who though might have voted for him as Governor are nevertheless firmly united across party lines behind APC’s Tinubu.
In the South-east, where the PDP controls only two states, the governors of both clearly don’t want Atiku to be President quite apart from the fact that his erstwhile running mate now turned fellow contestant, Peter Obi, has leveraged ethnocentrism to practically pocket the entire geopolitical zone! The entire Southern region of Nigeria, whose turn to produce the President of this country Atiku is most brazenly trying to steal, is therefore completely gone!
Perhaps, then, there is hope for him in the North. Unfortunately for him, his party actually has only one state in the entire North-central, Benue, whose Governor and people are, arguably, even more vociferously contemptuous of his candidacy and opposed to his becoming President than even Wike and the people of Rivers State! In the North-west, the PDP unfortunately also controls only one state, whose Governor and now Atiku’s campaign arrowhead is viewed by Nigerians, both North and South alike, as Atiku’s main co-conspirator and chief collaborator in his woefully illegitimate emergence as presidential candidate in blatant violation of their own party’s constitution.
In the North-east Atiku should ordinarily have been able to count on three governors. Unfortunately again, while he might be able to rely on his Man Friday and current Adamawa governor, Ahmadu Fintiri, the governor, on his part, is fighting the battle of his political life for a second term in circumstances in which Atiku’s problematic ambition is proving to be a most irritating distraction as well as a very big inconvenience. Fintiri, being barely sure of a second term for himself, is in hardly any position to deliver the state for Atiku.
Darius Ishaku of Taraba is seemingly fixated on his senatorial ambition and apparently quietly resents Atiku for trying to usurp the South’s turn to produce President. The other governor in the zone, Bala Mohamed of Bauchi, was Atiku’s fierce rival for the presidential ticket of the PDP and is now publicly accusing Atiku of plotting his political downfall in Bauchi even as he threatens fire and brimstone in retaliation!
Indeed, it appears that of the 13 governors and one governor-elect of the PDP, Atiku can really only count on Sokoto’s Tambuwal, his partner in the most infernally crooked electoral heist that got him the presidential ticket, and, on Delta’s Ifeanyi Okowa, his running mate! Atiku, the man who former President Obasanjo said a marabout told must become President, has only two state governors he can rely on in a country of thirty-six states!
Unfortunately, for him, neither state is even remotely in the bag. It is virtually impossible to see why Deltans, or indeed, any Southerners, for that matter, would vote for Atiku in callous contradiction and mindless repudiation of the national consensus championed by Northerners, themselves, as led by their own governors, for power shift to the South.
As for Sokoto people, there is absolutely no love lost between them and Atiku. This is besides the fact that like most people of other states in the North, they have consistently had nothing but complete contempt for Atiku and what he represents, quite apart from having always been highly suspicious of, and, most uncomfortable with his rumoured antecedents and perception in the eyes of the general public.
The man who wants to unite Nigeria by first further dividing it by stealing the turn of the South to produce the President is thus most pitiably stuck as presidential candidate of a now completely rudderless, miserably divided and totally disunited political party he cannot possibly ever unite being the very cause of the disunity presently ravaging the party! Perhaps in panic to salvage his steadily sinking presidential ambition, Atiku just keeps making one stupefying gaff after another.
In imperiously thundering in Kaduna that what the North needs is a Northerner, Atiku had most tactlessly reiterated the highly insulting misconception that Northerners are just a bunch of ethno-religious bigots who would vote for anyone from their region. Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth for, indeed, there is absolutely no empirical basis for this entirely false notion about our Northern brethren.
If the historical record is to be our guide, the report before us is that the good people of the North do not vote for you because you are from their neck of the woods. On the contrary, Northerners vote for you if they happen to like and trust you and the policies you advocate, well enough. Thus they voted massively for MKO Abiola in 1993 and even for Goodluck Jonathan in 2011. Thus while Atiku has clearly embraced the calculus that his only hope for becoming President is to whip up ethnic sentiments and rely on tribalism as his ticket to the Presidency of this country, he is actually guaranteed to most spectacularly fail in his ethnocentric agenda.
There is simply no amount of sectionalist votes he could ever possibly garner that would be enough to get him into Aso Rock. This is besides the fact that the North he is presently insulting by perceiving our Northern compatriots as just a bunch of tribalists and ethnic jingoists he can easily misguide into sectionalism, already realises the danger to national unity and cohesion of perpetual retention of power in one region and are totally committed to the national consensus of power rotation to the South in 2023.
The PDP is clearly no longer what it used to be and has now decomposed into an intellectually unhinged carcass of its old self. If it wouldn’t give President Goodluck Jonathan, a former president who had actually once won a presidential election, its ticket to run again, against President Buhari in 2019, why did it give Atiku Abubakar, the most serially failed presidential candidate in Nigeria’s history, a second ticket to run, yet again, in 2023? What in the world were they thinking?
You just violate your own party constitution, jettison zoning and flush power rotation and inclusivity down the toilet in servitude to the inordinate ambition of one man, and, then rely on that same epitome of political failure as your magic formula for political success? How do these people even reason?
I am sorry for the PDP because Atiku Abubakar has somehow, yet again managed to hoodwink them into boarding a one-chance bus he is narcissistically piloting to a destination of crushing disappointment. In the pathetically delusional one-mindedness of his desperation to fulfil esoteric prediction and obscurantist prophecy, Atiku has already consigned absolutely everyone who has been foolish enough to invest in his presidential ambition to political wilderness for the next four years, at the very least. I am sorry but must report that Atiku Abubakar is no longer in the presidential race.
-Onokpasa, a lawyer and member of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Presidential Campaign Council, writes from Abuja.